The twins were sitting in their wagon, being dragged by Pinkie, a wrapped box sitting in-between them. Pound was wearing a bow-tie and a little black suit, while Pumpkin had her mane in a pony-tail and was wearing a dress.
Their parents were walking along-side them.
Fluttershy’s cottage was in view, and Pinkie elected to run the last few hundred feet to the twin’s delight.
Cup Cake and Carrot Cake just maintained their slow pace.
As they came around the back of the house they saw Fluttershy and the rest of her friends walking around and chatting.
Getting out of the wagon Pound and Pumpkin grabbed their present, holding it between them as they run up to Fluttershy. “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” they yelled.
Fluttershy smiled down at them. “Why, thank you, you two. What is it?”
“Oh, it’s a-” Pound started, before Pumpkin gave him a hit. He looked over at her, then back up at Fluttershy. “It’s a surprise.”
“Almost got you there,” Fluttershy giggled. She pointed with her hoof toward a table. “You can put it right up there with the rest of them.”
“Okay!” they said, carefully heading to the table and setting it down.
Pinkie came up to Fluttershy and hugged her. “Hey there, birthday girl!”
“Hi, Pinkie!” she responded, holding her friend back. Letting go she said, “Thanks for setting things up over here.”
“No prob! I know you like smaller, quiet parties.” She looked around at the other guests. “I guess that’s everyone, then. Cup Cake and Carrot Cake are right behind us.”
Fluttershy blushed a bit, a curious smile on her face.
“What?” Pinkie asked.
“Nothing,” she said quickly. “I’m gonna go get some punch.”
Pinkie stared at her as she left, intrigued. Was there a surprise guest coming? She loved surprises!
After a round of greetings Fluttershy, Twilight, Pinkie, and the twins were deep in conversation as Applejack and Rainbow competed against each other. Rarity was dancing with Spike to the gentle music.
Pound was having trouble holding in his laughter as he told a story. “T-T-Twilight has been coming to our school every day t-t-to learn more about young kids. But of course the teachers were all like 'Oh, it’s a princess. Panic!'”
Twilight rolled her eyes, partly out of frustration. “It’s been years since my ascension, but still other ponies just don’t feel comfortable around me, like I’m going to cook them up and eat them if they so much as look at me funny. I just want others to act normal with me and be honest and true like you guys are.”
Pumpkin was snickering too as she remembered. “Twilight finally got fed up with their attitude, so she did something to break the ice.”
Pound’s grin was almost off his face. “She stood behind the teacher with this stupid look on her face and began moving her hoof in a mocking way. I couldn’t believe it. I almost busted a gut trying not to laugh. The teacher had no idea why everyone looked so amused by her lesson.
“She kept doing these ridiculous things until the class couldn’t hold it in anymore, and she turned behind her seeing Twilight pretending she was dead.”
Fluttershy put a hoof to her face and giggled. “Oh, Twilight. Really?”
Twilight was grinning now too. “Well, she knew all the kids weren’t laughing at the lesson, so she turned around to see what they WERE laughing at. Her eyes nearly flew out of her face to see me acting in such an unprincesslike manner. I pretended like I was a little kid. ‘Oh, no! You caught me. I’ve been disrupting your class. What are you gonna do about it?’ Poor thing looked like she had no idea what to make of me. The whole class was still in fits of giggles. After she finally got her senses back she drew herself up and told me to go stand in the corner, still sounding completely bewildered.”
Fluttershy snorted. “She made you stand in the corner?”
Pound was hitting the table he was laughing so hard, and Pumpkin was crying. Pinkie fell out of her seat, rolling on the ground.
“It was a novel experience for sure. I certainly never was punished like that in school when I was younger, being so devoted to my studies. I could feel her looking at me from time to time as she continued her lesson. When she gave them all some free time to play and talk with each other I went back over to her. I could feel the eyes of all the students watching me, waiting to see what I would do next.
“I saw a potential problem that I hadn’t foreseen. I didn’t want to make it seem like I was encouraging misbehaving. I explained to her first that I wanted her to see that I wasn’t stuffy or arrogant and I don’t want her to feel she has to be perfect around me, because I certainly am not. Far from it. Understanding crossed her features, and she got what I strived to do. She’s been more relaxed around me since, and I‘m pretty sure she told the other teachers about what happened, as they weren’t as nervous around me either.
“I gave a quick speech to the children that playing around was all well and good, but it has to be done at the appropriate time. As they saw when I acted out I was punished just like any of them would have been. Just like with Pound and Pumpkin I’m not out to usurp their parent’s authority over them, even though I technically could. The teacher is the authority at school, and I don’t want to enforce my status on others unless absolutely necessary. It’s a part of my role as princess to help others, but overriding them and forcing my way on others can deprive them of much needed self-reflection.”
Pound and Pumpkin both had their heads on the table, letting out loud snoring noises.
Twilight shut her eyes, refusing to rise to their bait. “So anyway… I would say it’s been a fun experience to spend time at the school. I feel like I’m learning so much. Like the teachers the kids were all a little hesitant with me at first, but they’ve warmed up to me when they saw I was a pony just like them.”
“I’m glad, Twilight,” said Fluttershy. “Hopefully with your aid the next generation of ponies can be as amazing as you are.”
“WE!” Twilight said insistently. “I couldn’t have done this without all of you. You were the ones who taught me what it meant to be a good friend. What?” Fluttershy was snickering again, and Twilight suddenly realized. She spun her head around and Pound and Pumpkin were a second too slow to hide their antics. Pound was holding his hooves to his throat and Pumpkin was pretending to throw up.
“Cute,” Twilight said, a bit snippy.
The twins were unabashed. “We’re just copying you,” Pound said innocently.
“Yeah,” Pumpkin agreed, nodding. “If a princess does it then it has to be okay.”
Twilight rolled her eyes, turning back to Fluttershy. “This is what I meant.”
Fluttershy was still grinning, but she tried to be serious as she responded, “Well, they have a point. You didn’t think things through.”
Twilight shook her head. “Oh, come on. You know they’re just doing it because of the story.”
“Hey, Fluttershy!” Pinkie said excitedly.
“So is there really a special guest coming?”
Again her face flushed. “W-who told you that?”
“Aha! I knew it!” she said victoriously.
Twilight looked between the two. “Why so shy, Fluttershy?” With a knowing grin she asked, “Is it your coltfriend?”
“What?” She shook her head hard. “I don’t even have one of those.”
“So then who is it, who is it?” Pinkie was hopping up and down.
Everyone was looking at her now. She sighed, knowing it was hopeless. “Discord,” she said quietly.
Twilight’s eyes widened a bit. “Really?”
Pinkie looked a little disappointed. “That’s the big secret?”
Fluttershy was looking at the table, gently pushing her hooves together in little circles. “W-well, he’s become a lot better behaved over the years. I usually have small parties like this as I don’t like a whole lot of fuss, but I feel like it’s so low-key that it must be so boring for all of you. I thought that inviting Discord over might… you know… liven things up a bit. I mean, that’s why Princess Celestia invited us and Discord to the Grand Galloping Gala, right?”
Pound and Pumpkin ran over to her, hopping up onto her lap and hugging her. “Don’t be sad, Fluttershy,” said Pound.
“Yeah,” said Pumpkin. “Your parties are great!”
Pinkie hopped up, hugging her too. “Don’t put yourself down, Fluttershy. All parties don’t have to be wild and crazy. I design my parties to the recipients taste.”
“They’re right, Fluttershy,” said Twilight with a nod. “If every party was exactly the same they just wouldn’t be as special. Having a nice, quiet time to just be together and enjoy ourselves can be just as wonderful as a loud, crazy party. What matters the most isn’t what we’re doing, but who we’re doing it with.”
Fluttershy pulled her hooves up, hugging her friends back. “Thank you, everyone,” she said tenderly. “I mean it.”
“No problem, girl,” Pinkie said, giving her a big squeeze.
“I don’t know when he’s going to be arriving.”
Pinkie giggled. “Knowing him it’ll be when we’re least expecting it.”
“Who is Discord, anyway?” asked Pound.
“Yeah,” said Pumpkin. “We’ve never met him.”
Pinkie rubbed Pound’s head a little. “He was a big troublemaker that Princess Celestia and Luna locked away a long time ago with the Elements of Harmony. When the six of us got them the spell they used on him weakened to the point he escaped, and started to cause a lot of trouble again. Because of his incredible magic the princess wanted us to help reform him. Fluttershy earned his trust to the point that he began to refrain from going crazy because he didn’t want to lose her as a friend.”
“Yes,” agreed Fluttershy. “His magic is different than any other creature we’ve met. He can defy reality itself and do magic that surpasses even that of the princesses. Short of the Elements of Harmony or Rainbow Power he’s basically unstoppable. However, since we befriended him now that power is on our side.”
The two of them looked up at Fluttershy with wonder. “Cool.”
Fluttershy beamed down at them. “Thanks, you guys. Now go enjoy the party.”
Getting down from her lap Pound and Pumpkin watched Rainbow and Applejack’s competition for a little while before Pound got an idea. “Come on, Pumpkin,” he said, jerking his head toward the house and walking away.
“Hey, where are you taking me?” she complained as she followed him.
“You’ll see,” he said mischievously.
Pumpkin was curious, and continued after him as he went inside the house and shut the door behind them. “Okay. Now what?”
Pound turned to her a cocky grin on his face. “Fluttershy said she wanted to have a better party than usual, right?”
“Well, I don’t know who this Discord is, but we shouldn’t let him steal the whole show. Let’s set up some pranks.”
Pumpkin screamed as a claw suddenly appeared around Pound’s throat, attached to she knew not what.
Pound’s heart began racing as it squeezed him. All of Fluttershy’s animals were tame and friendly.
“You don’t know who Discord is?” came a silky smooth voice. “Why, I do believe I’m offended.”
The pressure around Pound vanished suddenly, and he quickly ran to his sister, spinning around to see what had grabbed him. Both the twins were trembling. It felt like all the light had suddenly gone out of the room, a dark shadow looming over them.
There was a bolt of lightning, lighting up an animal or monster of some sort that they’d never heard of before. They tried to scream, but their voices didn’t seem to work.
“My, my,” said the voice. “My dramatic entrance might have been a little too dramatic." There was a snapping sound, and the lights came back into the room.
Popping in front of them he said, “Hello, there.”
The two of them clutched each other, looking up at him with awe. “W-what are you?” asked Pound.
“WHAT am I? I think that’s a little rude, don’t you? Don’t you mean, 'Who am I?'”
Pumpkin shook her head. “No. We’ve never seen a creature like you before. You’re not a pony, or an animal.”
“Ah, well, I suppose that’s true,” he replied, scratching his chin. “I am a draconequus. I am a mixture of a variety of species. The name’s Discord. Perhaps Fluttershy has mentioned me.”
Understanding flooded through them. “YOU’RE Discord?” Pound asked, his fear quickly leaving him as he looked Discord up and down. “Woah!” Stars glimmered in his eyes. “You’re so awesome!”
“Well,” he said contentedly, “I don’t like to brag, but yes.”
Pumpkin looked at him skeptically. “Can you really do all that crazy stuff Fluttershy says? I heard that not even alicorns can do what you do.”
Pumpkin screamed as Discord’s eyes popped out of his head. Pound gaped, laughing and eager for more.
Discord walked over and picked them up, summoning a cloth to wipe his eyes before placing them back in his head. “Now, don’t make me roll my eyes again. I mean, there’s no need to go to pieces.” His body suddenly split into many pieces and fell to the ground in a pile. Pumpkin only stared, a little horrified.
Pound began to laugh harder, already knowing he liked Discord.
Discord chuckled appreciatively. “Oh, it’s always nice to have some fans.” A devious grin came to his face as he put his body back together. “Ah, yes. That’s perfect. That will do just fine.”
“What?” asked Pound, his eyes alight with interest.
“Oh, you two will be very useful to me. You see, this party is pretty dull at the moment. I think there needs to be some more entertainment.”
“So you want us to put on a show?” asked Pumpkin, thinking of the play they had put on where they pretended they were Daring Do’s children. She was overcoming her apprehension of Discord, appreciating his power like Pound already had.
“Oh… something a little better than that.” He extended a claw, and a ball of a glowing purple plaid matter appeared. “Let’s just see what happens when you give little kids ultimate power.”
“Huh?” asked Pumpkin. When he approached her with the ball Pumpkin jerked back, but Discord simply closed the distance with ease, touching her with the sphere.
Pumpkin let out a squeak as her mane immediately stood on end like she was electrified. Icy cold and burning hot sensations were popping up all around her body. She started to shake as the discomfort ratcheted up. She gasped for breath, her vision going dim.
Pound’s enthusiasm quickly drained out of him. “W-what did you do?” he asked, worried.
“Just give it another few seconds,” Discord responded, his arms crossed and sounding unperturbed.
Pumpkin collapsed to the floor, panting and sweating. Her eyes were blank and lifeless.
“DISCORD!” Pound yelled. “Why are you doing this?”
“Up you get, Pumpkin,” he said, using his magic to put her on her hooves. She stood on shaky legs.
“W-what did you d-do to me?” she asked, still panting and anxious, fearful of this weird creature. Her quivering body probably wouldn’t support her weight if Discord wasn’t still assisting her.
“I gave you just a teeny-tiny bit of my magic so you can liven up the party. Go ahead. Think of anything you want right now and concentrate on the space in front of you.”
Her body still felt weak, and her head hurt a little. She was feeling unusually hot, and thought that a nice bowl of ice cream would be so soothing at the moment. As the mental image of the ice cream became stronger she concentrated, a bowl of ice cream almost as big as her appearing.
“Whoa!” said Pound, slightly distracted. “Pumpkin, are you okay?”
Pumpkin rubbed her head with half closed eyes. She felt weird, like there was something inside her that shouldn’t be there. “I… I think so,” she replied, still feeling shaky. Her eyes focused, and she twitched, seeing the huge bowl of ice cream. “Did… did I do that?”
“That’s right, Pumpkin,” Discord said with delight. “My brand of magic is far more adaptable than silly unicorn or alicorn magic. That seed I created will be effective probably until the end of the day.”
Pumpkin felt there was something really weird about all this. However, it was hard to worry too much about anything else when a big bowl of ice cream was in front of her. Having the general idea she thought about how she needed a spoon, and two spoons appeared, one for her and one for Pound. Her eyes lit up. This was so cool. Her head still hurt a little, but she felt like her body was adjusting to the intruder.
“Hey! Hey!” Pound complained. “Me too, me too!”
Discord smirked. “I wouldn’t dream of leaving you out. You seem like the kind of mischievous boy that would be perfect with a little extra power.” Just like before he lifted his finger, and a sphere of magic appeared. As he approached the colt Pound looked a little apprehensive, seeing what Pumpkin had gone through, but he thought it would be worth it to make his imagination come to life.
Pound went through the same process as Pumpkin, his mane puffing up and the alternating feelings of burning hot and freezing cold at random points of his body. Pumpkin summoned a pillow to catch him as he collapsed to the floor. Though feeling pained and panting hard he still gave Pumpkin a thankful smile.
After a minute Pound stood up, one eye closed and his head throbbing a little. He grabbed one of the spoons, digging in without preamble, hoping it would make him feel better. Pumpkin quickly joined in.
Discord watched the two of them with satisfaction. This was going to liven up the proceedings considerably. He couldn’t wait.